FIFA is expected to announce a huge expansion for the 2026 World Cup, with 48 teams playing a total of 104 games across the tournament.
The 2026 World Cup will take place in the United States, Canada and Mexico with 48 teams set to compete in 12 groups of 4. This will lead to a total of 104 games at the tournament, up from 64. The proposed format would see the World Cup become the longest as well as the biggest to date.
The new format os expect to see the top two progressing to the knockout rounds plus the eight best third-placed teams. That means that 67% of all qualifiers will progress to the knockout round.
At the recent 2022 World Cup in Qatar, underdog sides like Japan and South Korea advanced to the knockouts, while big names like Germany, Belgium and Uruguay were sent home after missing out on second place by narrow margins.
But after the success of the Qatar tournament and exciting nature of the dramatic group stage, which featured four teams, FIFA were forced to re-assess their plans, with president Gianni Infantino admitting they would ‘revisit’ the idea.
Infantino said: ‘I have to say that after this World Cup and the success of the groups of four, and looking as well at some other competitions like the Euros for example where you have 24 teams and the top two plus the best third ones go to the next stage.
‘Here, the groups of four have been absolutely incredible in the sense that until the last minute of the last match, you wouldn’t know who goes through.
‘We will have to revisit or at least rediscuss the format – whether we go for 16 groups of three or 12 groups of four. This is something that will certainly be on the agenda in the next meetings.’